OMAHA, Neb. – The Omaha Lancers were fined $20,000 by the USHL for flying back from the Fall Classic in September instead of taking a return bus as directed by the league.
In a statement released by the Lancers, they said the bus company they booked months in advance told them they could not provide a relief driver or a sleeper bus for the return trip from Pittsburgh to Omaha, leaving the Lancers scrambling. a 28-hour journey home. Lancers owner Michael Picozzi contacted USHL commissioner Bill Robertson to request an exception to a rule punishing teams for air travel, and the request was denied. Picozzi asked for the exception to prevent players from having additional stress and missing extra school days.
“At the Omaha Lancers, the mental and physical health of our players is paramount. No senseless rule or policy can alter our decision-making process when it comes to the well-being of our players,” Picozzi said in the statement. “The USHL is the best developmental league in North America. While we disagree with the league’s position, we accept it and are prepared to move forward. However, I hope the USHL will review this rule, which, in my opinion, it’s hurting the players.”
The Rink Live obtained information from the USHL, and the league says the USHL is proud of its record in the health, safety and care of its players. The league says it has a history of putting player health and safety first and has several initiatives to promote player health and safety, such as mental health and concussions. The USHL also said it has canceled games due to inclement weather and has always been a leader in the area of player safety.
As for the league’s stance on fining the Lancers, Omaha said it informed the USHL days before traveling to Pittsburgh for the Sept. 24-25 games that the team had no relief travel and that the league offered numerous alternatives to the round trip. he also offered to pick up the associated costs for the return journey.
The rule banning air travel has been around for a long time and is in place to prevent competitive advantage. The USHL went on to say that each team faces different financial situations, and the other 15 teams participating in the Fall Classic followed the rule without incident, with some teams having to drive farther than Omaha.
The USHL has offered to review this rule at its next board meeting this winter.